Visualizing the NBA’s Three-Point Revolution
How Threes Have Impacted the Game Since 2000
In light of the incredible season Steph Curry had — from becoming the all-time leader in threes made to winning his fourth championship and first Finals MVP — I decided to take a trip down memory lane and see how the three-pointer has impacted the NBA, by way of data visualization.
The stats are courtesy of Basketball-Reference, compiling the averages across all 30 teams, while the positional stats are from StatMuse.
Three-Pointers Made Per Game
In recent years, teams have been burning nets from the perimeter. After staying around 5–7 threes made per game, that number has shot up since Curry’s MVP year (the 2014–15 season). Nowadays, it’s normal for franchises to consistently drain 11–13 threes per game, thanks in large part to superstars such as Curry, LeBron, Harden, and Dame. With the NBA becoming a perimeter-centric game in the past decade, the number should only increase in the years to come.
PPG & 3PT%
Teams suddenly draining dozens of threes every game played a role in why PPG scoring has increased in recent years. Take a look at two graphs that respectively display the average points per game and three-point percentages from 2000 to 2022.
Threes Attempted Per Game
Likewise, the number of threes teams attempt per game has only increased in recent years after staying steady in the early 2000s. In 2012–13, teams attempted 20 threes per game, and that stat has gone up to an average of 35 triples taken this season.
Total Threes Made (By Season)
Outside of the 2011–12 lockout season, which only had 12,693 triples made, the “total threes made” category has come a very long way from the 12,000 triples drained in the early 2000s.
Total Threes Attempted (By Season)
Again, the 2011 lockout year is the only one that doesn’t follow the trend, with 36,395 threes taken, Outside of that, the numbers have skyrocketed up to 86.5K triples attempted. Taking 90,000 threes is not that far out of reach — something to keep an eye on in the years to come.
Threes Made and Attempted by Position
The following graphs illustrate a trend among threes taken and made through all five positions.
The three-point trend across all five positions can best be described with this meme:
Though all positions included a dip in threes made between 2010 and 2012, they all continued to increase their triples made and attempted as the years went on. The three-pointer has become so popular that even bigs are turning into stretch-fours and stretch-fives.
All in all, each of these graphs show that the three has continued to make a significant impact on the NBA. Teams have recognized the changes throughout the years — including the Rockets’ small-ball experiment last season — and will continue to adjust to the trends in the future. Overall, the perimeter shot revolution has been here for some time, and it definitely shows no signs of slowing down.